Review By KRISTIN WALD
Food, fun, games, and culture fill the three episodes on Mama Doni’s latest DVD, “Jewish Holiday Party.” While it will seem overly simple to families who have always been steeped in traditional holiday celebrations, it’s the perfect introduction for families that want to introduce, jumpstart or reignite their own traditions surrounding Chanukah, Passover, and Shabbat.
The Chanukah episode has sections teaching us the history behind the holiday, how to play Dreidel, what the Gelt you win is good for, and the joy inherent in the eight days of celebrations. The kids will love the funny song called “Honey This Ain’t Money,” all about trying to spend Gelt around town. And the song “Miracle to Me” is just lovely. There is a very kid-friendly lesson in cooking latkes that will be sure to inspire families to cook together. The recipe includes egg, so vegan families may want to prepare with an appropriate substitution.
The Passover episode includes a lesson in easy Matzoh Pizza as its food component. It also has a kid-friendly version of the history of Passover as well as sections that include the favorite song “Dayeinu,” and a lesson in The Four Questions. It also teaches about preparing the Seder plate. While it doesn’t include a vegetarian substitute for the Roasted Shank Bone or Egg, vegetarian and vegan families can use it as a springboard for discussion on what else could serve as the symbol of sacrifice and an offering. Mama Doni addresses the history of the slavery in Egypt as well as the thankful theme in Passover.
The third episode, about Shabbat, is the least cohesive, but it is still enjoyable and fun. Learning how to make Challah is the cooking section, and the attitude is one of family time, tradition, and togetherness. Again, music is used to share information and the beautiful “Shabbat Blessings,” sung in Hebrew, is a wonderful end to the collection.
My children and I found all three episodes informative and entertaining. The kids offered up one criticism, that the choice to have Mama Doni speak to a second camera was disconcerting. We all much preferred when she was speaking directly to us. The DVD (Amazon affiliate link) is made up of episodes that are both age-appropriate and not dumbed down. And as a bonus, it comes with a CD that includes the songs from all three episodes, plus one bonus track.
Recommended for children ages 4-10.
A publicist for the DVD sent a copy for review.